By ZAKIAH KOYA, JUSTIN ZACK, ANDY CHUA, MEI MEI CHU and TARRENCE TAN
PETALING JAYA: The leaders of the ruling Pakatan Harapan’s four political parties have asked the people to reject polemics which they say will destroy the country.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu were of the opinion that freedom of expression must be used with caution.
They said rhetoric affecting national unity must be brushed aside.
“We need to rebut polemics that will destroy the country. We must reject politics that will only profit the minority and not the masses.
“To progress, we need strong commitment, sincerity, belief in the people and a clear vision, ” the four said in a joint statement released yesterday.
They also urged the government to uphold the Federal Constitution and rule of law.
“In recent days, Malaysians have talked about various issues such as the economic challenges, race and religious perceptions, the teaching of khat to development issues. Today, the people can air their views easily on social and mainstream media.
“As we approach our 62nd Independence Day and 56th Malaysia Day, we should take the opportunity to think over the successes we have achieved together and the challenges which we will have to overcome in order to build a clean, just and successful society, ” they said.
They said that the statement was in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call to step up efforts to maintain peace and harmony in the country.
“Malaysia as a multi-racial and multi-religious country needs harmony and orderliness. We are made up of various races, religions and cultures. This variety must be upheld and respected by all layers of society, ” they added.
The statement follows the controversy created by the proposal to teach khat in schools and Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik’s comments on non-Muslims.
The Education Ministry said that parents of Year Four pupils in vernacular schools will get to decide if their children will be taught the Jawi script (formerly referred to as khat calligraphy).
The ministry said this means that Jawi will remain an optional topic for vernacular schools.
It will be taught as scheduled as part of the Bahasa Melayu curriculum for Year Four pupils in national schools from next year.
Zakir, an Indian citizen, stirred controversy in Malaysia with his open evangelism criticising non-Muslims.
During a religious talk titled “Executive Talk bersama Dr Zakir Naik” in Kota Baru recently, he called on the Malaysian Chinese to “go back” first as they were the “old guests” of the country. This was in response to calls for his deportation.
In his speech at the same talk, he also compared Hindus in Malaysia to the Muslims in India, saying that the Hindus here enjoyed more than 100% rights in Malaysia compared to Muslims in India.
He also alleged that the Hindus here were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Many parties condemned Zakir after the talk.
Zakir is wanted in India with alleged links to terror activities and money laundering.
Dr Mahathir had said that Malaysia was in a catch-22 situation as Zakir was “an unwelcome guest that Malaysia can’t send away”.
Meanwhile, two other ministers have called for action to be taken against Zakir.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said that with the rising sentiment against Zakir, the government must “deal rightly with someone who has abused his welcome”.
“Zakir is now out of control and he has broken our trust. Furthermore, he is now being exploited by the opposition, ” said Zuraida.
International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking said that the PR status of Zakir should be revoked as the latter has interfered in the “ambience of the country”.
“When you enter a country, you should neither instigate nor comment on the loyalty of the citizens. The authorities should review his PR status and state their position on Zakir. Malaysia as a multiracial and multireligious country has its own set of challenges.
“We do not need controversial figures to teach us what to do, ” he added.
Before this, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had asked for Zakir’s removal.